October 30, 2017
October 2017 at Policy Integrity:
- A Misguided Plan to Subsidize Coal
- In the News: Clean Power Plan Repeal
- Revesz Receives New York Law Journal Award
- Comments to Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee
- Briefs: Student Loan Rule, Wyoming Leasing Case
- Comments on Fuel Efficiency Standards, California Cap and Trade, and Nevada Energy Planning
- Staff Spotlight: Avi Zevin
Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s controversial proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants could very negative consequences for consumers and public health, as our recent comments and op-ed in US News highlight. In September, Perry asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to adopt a new rule that would guarantee coal and nuclear plants their full costs plus a profit, so long as they keep 90 days of fuel on site. Perry claims that these “fuel-secure” plants ensure grid reliability and resilience, but neither he nor FERC adequately define these terms or explain why such a measure is justified. Our comments argue that adopting the rule would violate FERC’s duty to keep wholesale electricity rates “just and reasonable” and “not unduly discriminatory or preferential,” because paying power plants their full costs so long as they keep onsite fuel reserves would increase costs to customers without any clear corresponding benefits. We recommend that, if FERC is concerned about the resilience of the electric grid, it begin a longer-term rulemaking process that encourages technology-neutral, market-based solutions that pay only for the resilience benefits that energy technologies actually provide.
In the wake of EPA’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, we weighed in on the agency’s problematic economic analysis. In their recent New York Times op-ed, Richard Revesz and Jack Lienke describe how EPA uses misleading arithmetic in the repeal proposal in order to shrink the plan’s benefits and inflate its costs. Revesz also discussed upcoming litigation over the repeal in the Los Angeles Times, and Lienke told Politico that falling compliance costs for the rule are “a reason to set more aggressive targets, not to weaken targets or repeal them altogether.”
New York Law Journal recently honored Richard Revesz as a 2017 Distinguished Leader for his work at Policy Integrity, the American Law Institute, and NYU Law. In a recent interview with NYLJ, Revesz discussed some of his views on leadership. The award is part of NYLJ’s annual Professional Excellence Awards, which recognize lawyers in the New York City area for their contributions to the legal community.
The Department of the Interior is required to earn “fair market value” for taxpayers on the use and development of federal resources. In an effort to encourage the agency’s newly formed Royalty Policy Committee to focus on this requirement, Jayni Hein recently attended the committee’s first public meeting to speak about this issue. We also submitted comments to the committee, outlining recommendations for how the agency can earn “fair market value” for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands while fulfilling its mandate to harmonize resource production with environmental values. Our comments recommend that Interior increase federal fossil fuel royalty rates. This approach would increase revenue to taxpayers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also ask Interior to reinstate the Coal Valuation Reform Rule and eliminate royalty rate reductions, which confer unjustified windfalls to fossil fuel producers at the expense of taxpayers.
Briefs on Student Loan Rule and Wyoming Leasing Case
Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule, which would have helped students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. In our amicus brief supporting borrower and state challenges to the delay, we argue that the Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act by arbitrarily disregarding the benefits for student borrowers that would be forgone as a result of the delay.
We also filed a brief in a challenge to the Bureau of Land Management’s leasing of lands in Wyoming for natural gas and oil extraction. We argue that the agency’s decision to trumpet the benefits of the leasing decisions while also failing to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions that will result from these leases and to use the social cost of carbon to assess the impact of those emissions on society, violated the National Environmental Policy Act.
Comments on Fuel Efficiency Standards, California Cap and Trade, and Nevada Energy Planning
Our comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discuss civil penalties for car manufacturers that violate fuel efficiency standards.
We also filed comments on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s reconsideration of fuel efficiency standards for consumer vehicles.
Our comments to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada focus on the state’s Integrated Resource Plan.
We propose strategies for implementing California’s cap-and-trade program in comments to the California Air Resource Board.
Staff Spotlight: Avi Zevin
Avi Zevin is Policy Integrity’s newest attorney, focusing on clean air and climate regulation, electric market design, and energy policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Before joining Policy Integrity in August 2017, he was an Associate at Van Ness Feldman LLP in Washington, D.C., where he provided strategic advice, legal advocacy, and policy analysis to a diverse set of clients in the energy sector. Before law school, Avi worked as a Policy Advisor at Third Way’s Clean Energy Initiative. Avi holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law, where he was a student in Policy Integrity’s legal clinic. He also holds a M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A., with high honors, from the University of California at Berkeley. You can find him on Twitter at @azevin.